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Current happenings - What's About?....



29 December, 2009 - Flowering gums

 

Musk Lorikeet          Musk Lorikeet
Musk Lorikeets

Around Christmas time every year our tall Corymbia tesselaris eucalypts burst into blossom.

Their nectar is harvested during the day by many honeyeater and lorikeet species, as well as goodness-knows how many insects,
and at night the trees are full of noisy Little Red Flying-foxes, also nectar feeders.

Our most common lorikeet here is Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, then Rainbow Lorikeet and Little Lorikeet - in that order.

Musk Lorikeets are more commonly seen up-range from here, and we have only recorded two birds at Abberton 
on two occasions over the last 22 years - until this week, when this season's abundant blossoms have drawn 
feeding parties of Musk Lorikeets into the trees near the house every day. 

 

          

Marsh Sandpiper          Nankeen Night-Heron
         

 



18 December, 2009 - Lewin's Rail!

 

A huge surprise yesterday afternoon when a Lewin's Rail walked out of the creekside vegetation almost opposite the house! (Bird 210 for the Abberton list).

Great views right in the open for maybe 5 minutes, then it flew across the creek to the near side, and out of view from the verandah.

 This was around 5.30pm, and I stayed watching from then until dark without seeing the bird again, but if it reappears tomorrow 
I'll have the camera and scope set-up ready for its return. And fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, the pictures below are all from the garden today.

Collared Sparrowhawk              Collared Sparrowhawk
Immature Collared Sparrowhawk

This Collared Sparrowhawk sat in a tree just alongside the front door for at least an hour, while it 
undertook a lengthy and systematic preening. The adjacent bird-bath remained unvisited for the duration.

However, it was business as usual elsewhere in the garden.

Eastern Yellow Robin          Red-browed Finch
         

 



16 December, 2009 - Some waterbirds

 

 

White-necked Heron
White-necked Heron

 

Buff-banded Rail          Australasian Darter
         

         



December, 2009 - A selection from around the garden

 

         
Olive-backed Oriole

 

         
Male and female Leaden Flycatcher

 

         
         

White-throated Honeyeaters
 

         
         


Golden-headed Cisticola

 



November, 2009

 


Pheasant Coucal - in breeding plumage
  

              
              

This Eastern Barn Owl has a regular roost in an acacia tree in our garden. 
These photos were taken when he shifted to a nearby eucalypt.

 


Black-necked Stork
 

         
         


Plumed Whistling Ducks

 

         
Regent Bowerbird

I've visited the local escarpment forest three times in the last three weeks,
and on each occasion I've met with several of these magnificent Regent Bowerbirds.

 

 

 
Black-shouldered Kite

Dollarbird

 



13 November, 2009 - Some local mammals in with the birds

 

         
Short-beaked Echidna

Short-beaked Echidnas are fairly common around here, and we often see them wandering through the garden. They rummage around looking for food, 
but as a rule they don't sit out in the open posing for the camera.

  However, we were treated to exceptional views  when we happened across an echidna alongside a fenceline, a kilometre or so from home. 
We were happy enough to snap a few pics, mostly of its back, as it snuffled about ignoring us - until it headed off 
on a determined march across the paddock and back out through the fence to a roadside water-filled gully.

  It didn't hesitate, but walked straight into the water, then poked its way through the thick waterside vegetation, still in the water and all but 
submerged some of the time. All this while, it was just far enough away to ignore us, but just near enough to let us get some very close photographs.  

         

It does most of its digging and ripping open of ant and termite mounds with its powerful front claws. 
But note the huge claw on a hind toe in the photograph above! This big claw is mostly used for grooming its spines and fur.  


A Koala in the escarpment forest 
- the same day we saw the Echidna

 

And these next two birds are here for no reason other than they are great favourites, and around the garden every day!

 


Female Speckled Warbler


Eastern Yellow Robin


22 October, 2009 - Oriental Plover and much more

 

Oriental Plover          Oriental Plover
Oriental Plover

A couple of terrific days birding around the valley with over 140 spp sighted.

The stand-out highlight this week, was the lone Oriental Plover sharing a paddock with a family of Banded Lapwings 
and a couple of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes. It's the first Oriental Plover I've encountered in the Lockyer Valley - 
they seem to be about a once in ten-year occurrence hereabouts, but
I've never been lucky enough to see one till now.

Banded Lapwing
Banded Lapwing

I didn't so much get close to this Banded Lapwing, as it got close to me 

- and here's the reason why - 

Banded Lapwing chick
Banded Lapwing chick

 

White-backed Swallow          White-backed Swallow
White-backed Swallow

White-backed Swallow

The day before, we found two imm White-backed Swallows on powerlines, a bird that was regular at Abberton 15 years ago, but has almost
disappeared from the valley since then. These are the first that I've seen locally for at least a couple of years.

 

 

Regent Bowerbird
Regent Bowerbird

A resident of the Toowoomba escarpment forest which provided a huge thrill yesterday for a visitor from Victoria, was this male
Regent Bowerbird. He first flashed over our heads showing his dramatic golden wingbars, then obligingly paused for a while in 
an adjacent tree to give us a little more time to drink in the rest of his majesty.



Galah          Galah

Wonderful birds, Galahs!

Galah

 

Little Friarbird          Nankeen Night-Heron
         

 



17 October, 2009 - Raptors

 

Brown Goshawk          Brown Goshawk          Brown Goshawk
Brown Goshawk

This Brown Goshawk landed on the verandah rail, then to and fro'd a few times between it and the nearby rustic fencing next to the rock just outside the window. 
Most of the Brown Goshawks we see tend to be first or second year birds, which really are brown, but this beautiful adult belies its unimaginative name.

I was photographing from the kitchen, across a room and through a closed glassed door. The uncropped image below might give some
idea of  the tension of the moment as I crept forward, breath held, hoping not to be spotted.

 

October has been good for raptors at Abberton. Of course the concept of 'raptor-watching' here isn't at all the same as the image it
conjours up of migration time in Europe and North America.

Here, several raptors are ever-present in our local environment, occupying territories that overlap our garden, others just wander in along the 
creek or pass overhead as they explore the valley.

One way or another, there are 20 raptor species on our house list, and in the first two weeks of October we've seen 8 of those from the verandah - and
one of them on it, viz Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Spotted Harrier, 
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon and Australian Hobby.



Australian Hobby
Australian Hobby


We see Australian Hobbys frequently. This one swept around 
for a while high above the garden and the creek yesterday.

 

Pheasant Coucal          Pheasant Coucal
Pheasant Coucal
on a creek-side stump

 



12 October, 2009 - More on Little Bronze-Cuckoos

 

Little Bronze-Cuckoo          Little Bronze-Cuckoo
Little Bronze-Cuckoos - female and male

We've had a male and female Little Bronze-Cuckoo at Abberton for a while, chasing around and calling.

As well as the distinctive descending 4 or 5 note call we're used to from Little Bronze-Cuckoos, we've been hearing an unfamiliar loud trilling call 
that I eventually also traced to these two - don't yet know if one or both are making it.  

I heard the trilling again recently, quite long, high-pitched and on one level throughout. Very loud too!

When I followed it, I found the male bird at the top of a eucalypt. No doubt that it was him calling. It took a while to spot him, 
but I was able to zero in on him through the call. While I was watching, he also gave the 5 or so note call that we are more familiar with. 
I saw the female a bit later back near the house.

The photos above show the female, with a creamy yellow eye-ring - and the male showing his distinctive red iris and red eye-ring.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill 
(with Dusky Moorhen)

Royal Spoonbill          Royal Spoonbill

This Royal Spoonbill is becoming something of a regular in the afternoons.

A very black male Black Bittern comes by most days, sometimes a browner female shows up. So far, when they do land, it's very close to the 
near edge of the creek and out of sight from the verandah. However, the creek level is dropping just now, and I've got my eye on a prime Black Bittern location 
that is gradually appearing within view of the house. Here's hoping the bitterns agree.

 



7 October, 2009 - More raptors

 

Spotted Harrier          Spotted Harrier
Spotted Harrier

 The Spotted Harrier above came through the garden this-morning, 
and below are photos of one of the two young White-bellied Sea-eagles that came over yesterday,.

White-bellied Sea-eagle          White-bellied Sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle, with a Torresian Crow in pursuit

 





28 September, 2009 - Back to Spring

 


Immature Brown Goshawk

We had a couple of unusual afternoons last week, when the westerly winds brought a good chunk of South Australian soil from the inland, 
up north and east and into our garden. But, Red Wednesday and Orange Saturday apart, the weather here right now is warm, uplifting and beautifully spring-like.

Dollarbirds and Channel-billed Cuckoos are back, lots of local birds are pairing up and building nests. 

Brown Quail are calling loudly day and night and wandering out and around the garden in pairs. 

We see Black Bitterns from the verandah most days, - a couple of times I've accidentally disturbed one from the shallows.

Brown Quail          Brown Quail
Brown Quail, 
snapped from the verandah

 

Horsfields Bronze-Cuckoo
Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo

 

Tawny Grassbird          Tawny Grassbird

Tawny Grassbirds are singing and displaying every day - a delightful bird to have in the garden.






19 July, 2009 - Australasian Bittern

 

Australasian Bitterns
Australasian Bittern

Two Australasian Bitterns have turned up alongside a local lake, and birders have been coming from far and wide to try for a glimpse of them.

It's only my second sighting of an Australasian Bittern in Queensland, and I wish the photo was better - but although the bird was a long way off, at least it was out in the open!

 

Red-necked Avocets
Red-necked Avocets

 

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbills

 

Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Yellow-billed Spoonbills

 

Red-winged Parrot
Red-winged Parrot
- seen a couple of hours west of here.

 

Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite

 

Striated Pardaltoe          Varied Sittella
         

A series of birds from around the garden.

 

Eastern Yellow Robin          Mistletoebird
         

Spangled Drongo
Spangled Drongo

 

Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo


Little Eagle

A Little Eagle has secured a Little Black Cormorant as a meal from its roost alongside a local lake.

 

Common Myna

When you isolate just one Common Myna from the crowd and take a close look at it, there is no denying it's a handsome bird.

Blue-billed Duck         
Male Blue-billed Duck

 

Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle - over the garden

 



12 July, 2009 - A couple of raptors and some honeyeaters

 

Pacific Baza
Pacific Baza

This Pacific Baza looks to be quietly at rest, but such is not the case! 
The poor thing was being made to shift constantly from tree to tree, harried at every turn by bombardment from local passerines.

Nankeen Kestrel
Nankeen Kestrel

 


Black-shouldered Kite          Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite

This Black-shouldered Kite was heavily involved in a stouch with a pair of Nankeen Kestrels who just didnt want him on their patch. 

There was plenty of noise with a lot of parrying and thrusting talons from all parties.

Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel
Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel

 

Australasian Grebe
Australasian Grebe


White-naped Honeyeater
White-naped Honeyeater


A day-trip to the west produced a swag of honeyeaters.


Yellow-tufted Honeyeater          Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
The right-hand pic shows an excited Yellow-tufted Honeyeater with his ear-tufts erect.

 

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

 



17 June, 2009 - Spotted Harrier

 

Spotted Harrier          Spotted Harrier
Spotted Harrier

Not a bad morning here, with Black-eared Cuckoo in the garden and a platypus in the creek.

Then, in the afternoon, this Spotted Harrier just across the creek from Abberton.



Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo in a eucalypt close to the house

 

Gull-Billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern at Lake Dyer

 

Restless Flycatcher          Rufous Whistler
         

 

White-throated Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeater




31 May, 2009 - Weekend Pics

 

                    

On Friday, at breakfast-time, a platypus was feeding in the creek while we were doing the same on the verandah - two long-distance snaps above.

There are better photos of our local platypus here


Yesterday, I heard an interesting cuckoo calling in the garden so I went looking for it and found a well-marked Black-eared Cuckoo in a sally wattle near the top gate. 

It was such a striking bird that I reached for the binoculars to get a really good look at it before trying for a photograph. It showed a bright white eyebrow above a bold black line through the eye, 
and it's breast was a rich apricot colour, much brighter than shown in any of the fireld guides - much the same as a bird we had here in 2006. 

I'd love to be able to show you the photograph, but there isn't one thanks to a Willie Wagtail that took a dislike to having the cuckoo on its patch, 
and harried it from tree to tree to tree, with me in futile pursuit.


Yellow Thornbill
Yellow Thornbill

A few days later, still trying for the cuckoo, I went up to the same little group of trees which I found alive with Yellow Thornbills. 
So, by consolation, I achieved a few close pics of those busy little birds.




24 May, 2009 - Some Garden Birds

 

Pheasant Coucal
Pheasant Coucal

 

Eastern Yellow Robin          Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin


Just regulars in our garden, all pretty common, but each one beautiful to see.
 

Rainbow Lorikeet         
Zebra Finch
         

Weve had a lot of rain over several days lately, no flooding here, but the creek is full and flowing. 

Just the sort of overcast days when youre always in with a chance of a day-time platypus and sure enough, 
on two overcast mornings this week Ive looked through the windows for my first daily glimpse of the outside 
world to see a platypus feeding in the creek just in front of the house.




23 March, 2009 - Early morning Bittern

Black Bittern
Black Bittern

This Black Bittern was the first bird I saw when I got up this-morning and looked out of the windows 
at the creek. They tend to be shy, so I quickly took a record pic through the closed window, before sneaking 
out onto the verandah to try for some better shots. 

As it happened, it was the only photo I got so, poor as it is, Id still like to share it because a Black Bittern 
is such a great bird to see out in the open. It isnt unusual to see them flying along the creek, and when the 
water level is low they sometimes turn up on the margins in view of the verandah, but not usually 
right out in the open like this one. Ill check out that stump again early tomorrow morning.

Square-tailed Kite                        Square-tailed Kite
Square-tailed Kite

 This Square-tailed Kite was hunting over some treed gardens as I came home with the Sunday paper yesterday morning. 



17 March, 2009

 

Blue-billed Duck                         Blue-billed Duck
Blue-billed Duck 

A Blue-billed Duck has been around on a local lake on and off for a few months,
so I squeezed in a diversion late this-morning to see if I could find him.

The bird was showing as I arrived, and I spent about 15 minutes enjoying it as well as taking a few photographs.

 When I got home, between the car and the house, a couple of Dollarbirds were chattering and sweeping around overhead, not yet returned north, 
the trees alongside the driveway held a Spangled Drongo, at least three Leaden Flycatchers, a resplendent male Rufous Whistler, 
with Varied Sittellas exploring the branches above them, and it was time for lunch.

A great morning!

Pink-eared Duck and Plumed Whistling-Duck
Pink-eared Duck and Plumed Whistling Duck
on the same lake as the Blue-billed Duck above.


28 February, 2009

 

Little Eagle
Little Eagle 

A racket from a group of Torresian Crows close to the house led me outside to see what they were up to.
I found about a dozen crows flying into and swooping round a nearby gum tree, calling all the time.

It didn't take long to find what was causing their upset - a Little Eagle 
clutching a bough with one foot, and gripping a freshly caught chicken in the talons of the other. 

 

Sacred Kingfisher          Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
         

 

Speckled Warbler
Speckled Warbler 

 



21 February, 2009

 

Brown Goshawk          Brown Goshawk
Brown Goshawk 

An immature Brown Goshawk dropped onto a bench on the verandah mid-morning today
The first photo was
taken from indoors through the window, then a clearer pic when he moved to the fencing nearby.

Just now, as we move from late summer into autumn, the weather is very pleasant and birds are everywhere around the garden.
Spangled Drongos, Dollarbirds and Sacred Kingfishers are a
ll around the house this-morning,
as well as male and female Leaden Flycatchers.
 

Leaden Flycatcher     Leaden Flycatcher
Female Leaden Flycatcher 

 

 





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you in any way we can to plan your trip to Queensland.


email us at:   jollyabberton@bigpond.com

Bill Jolly, Abberton, Helidon, Qld
(27 34' 21' S; 152 08' 21' E)